Tributes paid to local historian who championed Sunderland Museum and Whitburn’s heritage

Tributes have been paid to a passionate local historian who has died aged 91.

Sybil Reeder at Whitburn windmill
Sybil Reeder at Whitburn windmill

Sybil Reeder, from Whitburn, died peacefully on February 21 and friends and family will gather to honour her life at a funeral service at Whitburn Parish Church on Monday, March 11 at 2pm followed by a cremation at South Shields at 2.45pm.

A key figure in the development of Friends of Sunderland Museums (Fosums), Sybil had been chairman of the group for more than 13 years. As well as her interests in Sunderland Museum, she was passionate about Whitburn’s rich history and was chairman of Whitburn Local History Society.

Sybil at Sunderland Museum

She joined Fosums soon after she moved to Whitburn from Coventry in the early 1980s. Happily she decided to remain in the North East after the death of her husband, Frank, who was a distinguished research chemist, and she became involved with several museum and history groups, particularly Fosums.

Joining the committee in 1992, Sybil’s abilities soon became clear and she was elected chairman the following year. Her organising ability, which included arranging speakers for meetings, was to be of great benefit to Fosums

A spokeswoman for the group said: “Sybil made an invaluable contribution not only to Fosums, but also to Sunderland Museums in the mid-1990s when the Library moved out of our building and the Friends looked forward to the expansion of the Museum.

“To raise funds to support the development she launched the Museum Guardians scheme and many other fundraising activities which were extremely successful with £10,000 being raised.

Sybil with her book of Memories of Whitburn

“When Sybil retired as chairman in 2006, she was made an honorary member and presented with an engraved glass bowl. This reflected the appreciation of all her hard work which had left Fosums a thriving organisation. She will long be remembered for her major contribution to Fosums, Sunderland

Museums and the wider heritage of the area she made her home.”

Sybil was also actively involved with several other local organisations such as the Whitburn Local History Society and the Sunderland Heritage Forum and gave talks to several organisations. She was the author of several books on Whitburn, the Boldons and Roker and was involved with historic buildings in Whitburn, such as the windmill.